- Flying Lessons and Other Stories ed. by Ellen Oh
Library ed. ISBN 978-1-101-93460-9 $19.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-101-93459-3 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-101-93461-6 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 6-9
Ellen Oh, co-founder of We Need Diverse Books, has assembled a glittering cast of writers for this collection of ten short stories. Beginning with Matt de la Peña’s tale of a young Latino boy pursuing his hoop dreams at the Muni Gym at Balboa Park, entries go on to tell the stories of a young Chinese girl sold into slavery only to be rescued by pirates because she has learned to read (by Grace Lin), a Latino girl who has to swallow her pride when her father agrees to paint the gym at her private school in exchange for her tuition (by Meg Medina), and an African-American boy who may, or may not, have acquired the superpower of listening in to other people’s thoughts (by Kwame Alexander). Other stories by Tim Federle, Kelly J. Baptist, Tim Tingle, Jacqueline Woodson, and Soman Chainani all feature middle-school kids from diverse backgrounds learning something about themselves as they weather emotional storms and find hope and sparks of wisdom through friendships, loss, and new understandings of their elders. The collection closes strong with a story by Walter Dean Myers about a boy learning to play wheelchair basketball and an afterword that makes the case for the We Need Diverse Books movement. Whether or not middle-schoolers read the afterword, however, they are sure to agree that they need to read more books by these authors, whose storytelling styles and genuine feel for adolescent struggles and triumphs will inspire them to seek out their other work.